Digital Assets: A Q & A with Dylan Meyer-O’Brien

Dylan Meyer-O'BrienIn an exclusive Q&A session with Legalwise Seminars, Dylan Meyer-O’Brien, CEO of The Prepared Company, addresses key questions regarding digital assets. He will be covering this topic in depth at the upcoming Wills and Estates Symposium on Wednesday 2 March 2022 at RACV City Club, Melbourne.


What is a digital asset?

A digital asset is simply any item that has intrinsic or sentimental value, that’s primarily stored in a digital format. This can be anything from your cryptocurrency and passwords, to domain names, repository access, business email accounts, photos/videos and social media accounts – the list is endless.

How would you describe the current climate with digital assets?

Society is at a tipping point. For the first time in history, we’re about to have more of our lives stored in the digital world than the physical. Many people now even have all their home utilities connected, paid for and cancelled through phone apps – and they’re starting to board up their mailboxes – not to mention Cryptocurrency putting real dollars on the line and the big tech companies doing everything they can to not provide access as per their privacy policies.

We’re already hearing from many lawyers that digital assets are starting to become a huge, multi-year burden on beneficiaries and the law firms themselves when people pass away and there really hasn’t even been a solution.

What’s the common mistake that lawyers make when it comes to digital assets?

Many lawyers come to us riddled with guilt because they know that the ‘digital asset’ clause they’ve been putting in their Wills simply don’t cut it anymore – but because they don’t haven’t had a better solution, many admit to me they’ve actively avoided talking about digital items with their clients. They often feel awful but explain that their hands have been tied. A few have tried to use programs such as Google Sheets to let clients share passwords, but have had issues with data being compromised and stolen; and they tell clients to keep a list somewhere in their house – but know there’s zero chance that person will keep the list up to date.

How can these issues be resolved in your view?

Firstly, you should never ask clients to share data with you in an insecure format – this includes emails and Excel sheets. Secondly, you need to have a secure, digital safe-custody system in place.

Finally, you need to resolve to solve this issue, because it simply isn’t going away. In all likelihood, it’s going to represent even more of your business in the future.

What’s one of the key sources of disputes that arise around digital assets that estate planning lawyers should be aware of?

While cryptocurrency is currently the hot topic, with so many millions being trapped in PC’s – the biggest risk factors for disputes is usually over items of such as online share trading platforms/online gambling platforms that are outside of Australia. We’ve heard many accounts of $50k+ being held overseas in a platform that simply doesn’t respond to requests for access. Another issue is the Two Factor Authentication that so many accounts now require that’s usually linked to the deceased mobile phone device. If you don’t have access to that device, then you can’t access the accounts even if you have the usernames and passwords.

An Entrepreneur at heart, Dylan Meyer-O’Brien has always focused on solving big problems. After filing his first patent in 2013, he graduated with a degree in Psychology from Monash University before starting his first business – a website and marking firm – in 2014. He went on to invent a powerful machine learning algorithm which he leveraged to democratise social media growth for sole traders in 2017 under the app name ‘Ugro’ before almost being hit by a car. It was his concern over how his family would have handled his death and closing his online business that eventually lead him to found The Prepared Company – focusing on providing the safe, secure passage of your digital assets to loved ones when you die.